Madison in the Sixties – the second week of January, 1968
On the morning of the eighth, the Wisconsin State Journal publishes an editorial about the thirty or so families of Hispanic migrant workers who have arrived here from Texas and Mexico since last fall, calling on the Madison community to give them financial, emotional and other support. That afternoon, The Madison Housing Authority (MHA) votes to reserve up to twenty public housing units for their use, and housing authority director Bjarne Romnes meets with representatives of United Migrant Organization Services to develop policies and procedures.
On the 9th, former UW student Steve Miller, who left town in 1965 for Chicago and then San Francisco, returns to play two powerful sets at Ken Adamany’s nightspot, the Factory. The first Bay Area musician to have signed a huge record contract, Miller’s group now features Boz Scaggs, his former bandmate in the Ardells, a local group also featuring Ben Sidran on piano, popular here in the early 1960s. The band, which played the Monterey Pop Festival last June, is heading to England in February to record its debut album with Rolling Stones producer Glyn Johns.
Another former UW student is also making big musical waves. Shorewood Hills native Tracy Nelson, who won a talent contestwent west in 1966, is listed in the current issue of Newsweek as one of the “Queen Bees of Rock” for her leadership of the blues group Mother Earth. The Steve Miller Band and Mother Earth both have three cuts on the soundtrack of the new movie Revolution, a documentary on the hippie scene in San Francisco scene.
On the 10th, two antiwar protesters jailed for their role in the protest against the Dow Chemical company that rocked the UW campus in October 1967 complete their sentences and are released from the Dane County jail. Former teaching assistant Robert Cohen and student Jonathan Stielstra were each convicted of two counts of disorderly conduct, while Stielstra also pleaded no contest to a charge of cutting down the American flag from atop Bascom Hall. Unlike his first sojourn in the graybar hotel last fall, Cohen was this time allowed to retain his heavy black beard.
Two days later, Cohen lectures the Board of Regents for about half an hour on why they should not approve a proposed administrative rule prohibiting the intentional blocking of university buildings and imposing other restrictions. Cohen, expelled for walking out of his disciplinary hearing last fall, tells the regents they were “acting like cretins,” and says they could not crush what he termed the “revolutionary group” which represents more than half the student body. And he warns the regents that they were turning the campus “into a tinderbox,” and that adoption of the rules would lead to urban guerilla warfare on campus. Movement attorney Percy L. Julian, Jr., adds that the proposed rule would violate the freedom of assembly and would likely be struck down by the courts.
Automobile parking continues to a growing problem for the university. On the 11th, the chair of the university’s Parking Board proposes excavating part of Bascom Hill for an underground six- hundred- car parking ramp, with the entrance at Park and State Streets. Professor W. Wallace Cleland says he doesn’t think there will be too much opposition, even though the excavation and landscaping would cause the loss of the hill’s elm trees, because “they will have to go anyway,” if they become victims of Dutch elm disease. But he says the trees could be retained if a parking ramp were built in the center of the hill. The board takes the matter under advisement.
The start of the spring semester brings plenty of school news.
On the 8th, School Board President Dr. Ray Huegel, namesake of the new elementary school on Prairie Road, announces he is stepping down from the Board after 34 years of service. A practicing dentist from 1912-1966 and past president of the Wisconsin Dental Society, Huegel won six varsity letters at Marquette University, and officiated Big Ten football games for 23 years – including a Rose Bowl.
A few nights later, the board agrees to hold a public hearing on a proposed student conduct policy which would prevent high school boys from sporting mustaches and beards. The question first arose in late December, when 15-yo Robin Zeldin, was suspended for three days from James Madison Memorial HS for refusing to shave his mustache. His mother, civil rights and antiwar activist Mrs. Lee Zeldin, appealed the action to Circuit Court judge Richard Bardwell, who ruled that the youth could not be suspended again for refusing to shave. School board vice president Mrs. Ruth B. Doyle opposes the ban on facial hair, but board member Arthur “Dynie” Mansfield gets applause with his forceful statement in support. “If we condone or permit these students to embarrass our school administrators, to cause as much trouble as they can, to encourage other students to defy school rules,” he says, “we will have chaos in our schools as they have in Chicago.” To Mansfield, a UW Professor of physical education and baseball coach, the issue goes far beyond facial hair. “Behind the mustache, the beard, the long hair and improper dress,” he declares, “lies the true and important reason for their actions: A defiance of authority, a lack of discipline, disrespect for rules and regulations, and disobedience to their parents and school personnel.”
At the Capitol, the state Legislative Council votes to create a committee to study whether contraceptives should be removed from the definition of “indecent articles” and made available to unmarried persons over the age of 18 and women who had already borne children. The council rejects attempts by birth control opponents to include abortion and fornication in the study.
And the city mourns welfare director Elma Christianson, 55, after her body is discovered on a hallway floor in her home on Rowley Avenue on the 10th. Coroner Clyde Chamberlain says Christianson, city welfare head since 1953, died of a heart attack about a week prior. Neighbors called police to investigate after they had not seen her since January 3.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, mask-wearing, hand-washing socially distant WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.